1. January 2021 Blog

How to deal with stress in a call center?

Troublesome situations are typical for working in customer service. To avoid burnout, imply these stress management techniques for call center employees.

Up to 54% of workers state that work stress affects their home life. Negativity can spread easily from the client to the employee - and then the whole team. In call centers, where agents interact with different customers, it’s more than crucial to learn how to face it. 

The first step to make a change is to identify and assess the stressors. If only thinking of handling customers’ issues makes your agents feel dizzy, it’s a clear sign that they don’t pay enough attention to their frame of mind. It’s a straightforward way to experiencing burnout, which can be avoided by trying to maintain a healthy balance between work and personal life.

Fortunately, there’s a list of 10 things call center agents can do to balance their self-esteem and protect wellness overall.

Why stress management is crucial in call centers?

Statistics show that it’s crucial to provide call center agents with help to lower their stress levels. Employees who experience a drop in their productivity entail financial costs for the whole call center, which are estimated up to $550 billion every year. Although it’s a serious issue, managers tend to ignore it, as only 1 in 10 workers who suffer from stress are offered help from their supervisors.

Living in chronic stress can influence organisms on many levels - sometimes we aren’t even aware of its extent. Statistics show that last year 94% of workers in the US reported experiencing stress at work. Often it’s not a matter of a job you’re doing, but your attitude towards it.

After hours of looking for the best stress-revealing methods that actually work and testing them out, we prepared a subjective list of essentials. Without further introduction, let’s dive into them.

10 stress management techniques for call center employees

As a manager, you can provide your team with techniques that help with stress releasing. As a call center agent, you can implement the following tricks yourself to unwind easily.

There’s a list of 10 methods, which you can apply, depending on the moment (when you can take action) and frequency (how often you do particular exercise). Half of them can be useful at work and the other half should become a daily routine to help you maintain the balance of your mind.

What to do in the moment of stress?

When you already are at the office and a negative situation makes you lose your temper, you have to act quickly. Here are the tricks to follow.

#1 Think of a bigger picture

Sometimes clients don’t mean to be offensive, yet they behave unpleasantly. They could have a tough day, or repeating their issue makes them lose their temper. Keeping that in mind might distance yourself from their attitude and understand their situation more. 

Don’t take it personally, as frustration might have a different background, not related to you in any way. Be aware of what you have an impact on and what doesn’t depend on your actions.

How to deal with angry customers on the phone? 9 easy-to-implement tips  

#2 Breathe in & out

Sounds simple, but do you make the most of your breathing? Breath is what keeps us alive, so paying more attention to it is what might leverage your body’s potential. Numbers speak for themselves - by practicing conscious breathing you can lower cortisol levels by 20 percent, as well as heart rate and blood pressure. There are apps (or even playlists on Spotify) that can help you with that.

  • find a peaceful place, where you feel comfortable - it could be a less crowded part of the office
  • relax your jaw muscles
  • sit straight (but don’t crouch)
  • focus entirely on the air you’re breathing - on inhales and exhales

It could take just five minutes but changes would be bigger than you can expect. Conscious breathing relaxes your brain, boosts energy, helps you connect with your body and settle at the moment. You can also do it as a part of your daily routine, before sleep or after you wake up.

#3 Unwind with a dedicated playlist

Music has a therapeutic influence on the nervous system of most of us. Platforms such as Spotify, Tidal, or YouTube offer many playlists with lo-fi music or any other kind that suits your mood. This examination shows that sitting in silence could have a worse impact on our wellness than listening to classical pieces after being exposed to a stressor. But classical music might not be your cup of tea. 

As everyone has different tastes in music, inspiring yourself with songs from already-made mixes and creating your own set of tracks could be the best choice - and pleasant activity.

#4 Breaks are key

If you used to think of taking a break as a sign of your weakness, it’s high time to change that perception. Having time to stress-out, have a little chat with your co-workers, or just sit alone and distance yourself from reality is what we all need when doing any type of activity for a longer period. Giving your brain space can increase your performance and creativity, plus - it helps with dealing with pressure. 

It’s a perfect way to start implementing healthy habits in your work. Often it’s a task for a manager to give an example of a balanced workflow, that would help the team with dealing with pressure. Try to walk a  bit to stretch your legs and muscles, as they need some variety too.

#5 Eat your lunch with consciousness

Just eating anything for lunch is not enough. It also should be done with a relevant approach. The study shows that 65% of employees eat at their desks or skip their meals completely. Having time to enjoy your lunch has multiple positive aspects, such as improved mental well-being, increased productivity, and creativity.

Having lunch with other employees can also help with building strong relationships between them. If you’re a leader, consider dining with your team, as 81% of employees who take a daily lunch break together have a strong desire to be an active company member. As you can see, taking a few minutes off doesn’t mean losing money - actually, it gives the opposite result. 

Why stress management technique should become your daily routine?

It’s not true that practicing stress control only in the moments of pressure would do all the work. Focusing on your reactions to situations and implementing mindfulness methods to your daily routine is key to balancing your emotions. Doing some exercises in the office surely would work too, but it won’t give you the best results in the long term. Applying small changes, but doing it systematically is a real game-changer.

#1 Meditation and mindfulness

Learning to stay focused on positive aspects that truly matter is an invaluable ability. Like with everything in life, from sport to work, you have to train to be the best in a particular field. There are many apps, which can help you with learning how to meditate, drive attention to your breath and inner body. 

Let’s be clear - it’s not a spiritual thing. It’s just an exercise, which can help you with distancing yourself from negativity and thus - becoming more resistant to stressful situations. At most times you can’t change the way someone acts - but you can choose your reaction to it.

#2 Technology is a friend

Using technology to one's advantage is a big part of being more organized and less stressed out. In this article, we wrote about the reasons to use Automatic Call Distribution. It’s an example of the feature that would help with taking too many tasks off your agents’ shoulders. Implementing the right tool to your call center will enable your team to focus more on tasks that worth their attention because those which are less relevant would be handled by a software system.

Choosing an omnichannel app that keeps all the information within one tool and is intuitive is the best gift you can give to your employees. It’s the easiest and most efficient way to reduce the number of insignificant tasks to eliminate another stressor. If you’re looking for one - check out CloudTalk.

Automated Call Distribution (ACD) is the backbone of call center software  

#3 Regular diet and sleeping pattern

Getting enough sleep is essential for our body to function properly. Lack of it causes a list of side effects, including weight gain and hurting cognitive processes. Discovering your own sleeping pattern might take some time, but your organism will be thankful for that. To get to know it, try to go to sleep and get up at a similar hour. Avoid staying up late and exposing to bright screens within 1-2 hours before bedtime. Try to control your napping, as it might cause problems with falling asleep at night.

When it comes to diet, a common expression ‘you are what you eat’ turns out to be true. Mind what kind of food you choose. Do it wisely and try to bet on meals based on organic ingredients, which can nourish your brain. Think of scheduling your dining. Having an eating pattern might prevent eating disorders when you’re put under pressure.

#4 Get some me-time

Finding time for yourself besides work might be hard when you’re always in the loop of calls and managing your team. We can’t just turn off overthinking but dedicating a few hours to yourself won’t make the world stop spinning. In order to be in a good emotional condition, don’t resign from your passions or spending time with your peers and loved ones.

If you want to develop your skills besides the office, see what works best for you. If learning through reading makes you stressed, try to find webinars, podcasts, or other forms - whatever will keep you going, without putting too much pressure on you.

#5 Handwriting 

The scientists proved that handwriting can reduce stress levels and helps your brain with loosening up. In the digital era, it’s easier to use a mobile to make notes, but nothing compares to a pen and paper. Handwriting forces us to slow down, mind our words, and thus - sharpens the brain without tension. 

That’s why the gratitude journal was designed. According to the research, spending just 15 minutes each evening on writing down what you’re thankful for enhances your sleep. If you’re not a fan of journaling, try drawing in the coloring book. The market is flooded with them nowadays and offers adult versions - so it’s not just a childish fantasy.

It’s all about balance

We’re not trying to say that applying these stress management techniques will eliminate all negativity from your life - it probably won’t. But letting go of some of the pessimistic emotions could just make your life easier and your workflow better. Getting up motivated and relaxed can boost your work performance - enabling you to make the most of your potential.

Think of yourself holistically and take care of your wellness at work, as well as outside the office. No matter if you’re a team leader or a call center agent, these tips are worth checking out to help you become more resilient to external factors.

And if you’re looking for a tool to help you with managing a call center, a free trial in CloudTalk is waiting for you. Check it out to see for yourself how any tasks can be done automatically and gain more time to unwind.